Much like having a bigger better looking brother – the Porsche 912 has always been in the shadows of its more prestigious brother – the Porsche 911. With prices sky high the Porsche 912 is enjoying a resurgence with people wanting a piece of that iconic shape while still being mindful of the wallet.
The Porsche 912 – The forgotten Porsche
After the launch of the 911 – Type 901 – in 1964 Porsche executives worried that the price hike for the more powerful flat six power unit over the out-going 356 would be too much, narrowing the market and brand appeal for Porsche. The Porsche engineers were tasked with bridging the gap and concentrated their efforts on the drive train in a bid to reduce production costs. Built from the same platform as the 911 – in 1965 Porsche launched the 912 or Type 902 continuing the lineage from the 901.
Instead of the famous rip snorting flat six, the 912 inherited the flat 4 cylinder power unit owners of the 356 had come to love. Producing 64 horsepower and boasting 30 miles per gallon the 912 targeted the driver that liked to take things a little slower – In doing so the 912 immediately caught the attention of 356 fans who appreciated the performance similarities between the two. Weight was reduced by 100kg and meant a better front-to-rear weight distribution, coupled with the low drag and fuel efficiency the changes under the skin of the Porsche 912 benefitted buyers wallets at the showroom and the pump – the sensible 911 ownership choice or all the guns and no ammo?
According to the Porsche 912 Registry – “The 912 shared a lot of performance features as the 911 such as four-wheel disc brakes, four-wheel independent suspension with torsion bars, rack and pinion steering, racing pattern 5 speed transmission, and Recaro seats. 3- point seatbelts were optional as was air conditioning, halogen fog lights, rear window wiper, and an electric sunroof…
912s had several components reminiscent of 356. In addition to its flat-four engine, exterior paint colors, seats and headrests, chrome wheels, gear shift, instruments, heater system, aluminum body trim, headlights, fog lights, luggage straps and mirrors were in the 356 tradition. And the 1965 and 1966 912s shared a powertrain component with the legendary Porsche 904 and 906 race cars – Nadella halfshafts” (Porsche 912 Register, 2010)
Let’s go to the race – The Porsche 912
The 912 quickly became the market leader and in some markets outsold its “bigger better looking brother” by two to one. Not only did it excel in the sales department but its economy and endurance over long distances made it a firm favourite for Rally drivers – in 1967 Sobieslaw Zasada independently piloted his 912 to a European Rally Championship Touring Series win – even scoring more points than the Monte Carlo Rally winning Works 911S driven by Vic Elford and David Stone.
The Aircooled Scene
It was only a matter of time until the VW and German car scene got their hands on the Porsche 912. Being air cooled, lovers of slammed Beetles, VW Buses and Type 3 variants with the same peppy flat 4 cylinder have started hot rodding the 912. The tucked and slammed look that is popular among the beetle and bus crowd works so well on the 912 and flows with it’s tear drop lines iconic to the 911. The end of season DTA meet had some stunning examples, showcased by Slam Sactuary.
Despite living in the shadows of the Porsche 911 the 912 stands on its own in the Porsche hall of fame and is worthy contender to anyone considering capturing their Porsche passion.